Maria McKenzie | What Inspired The Unchained Trilogy
October 21, 2012
It's fascinating how an idea can be transformed into a story. I always enjoy
learning what inspires an author's work. For instance, Stephenie Meyer had a
dream that inspired her to write TWILIGHT, and Margaret Mitchell
modeled Pansie O'Hara (who later became Scarlett O'Hara) in GONE WITH THE
WIND after herself, and her experience of falling in love with the wrong
One of my favorite movies is Finding Neverland. In it, we see how
Scottish dramatist J.M. Barrie, through imagination and his real experience of
befriending three boys (and their evil Captain Hook like grandmother) came up
with the idea for the stage play Peter Pan. "With a wee bit of
imagination," Barrie says, "anything is possible."
For a writer, truer words were never spoken! I am very excited about the release
of my new novel, ESCAPE: Book One of the
Unchained Trilogy. I came up with the idea for this story when I thought how
sad it would have been if my husband and I had met 150 years earlier. We were
living in North Carolina at the time, and being an interracial couple, we
wouldn't have been allowed to marry a century and a half earlier. The rest of
the novel snowballed from there, turning into a family saga of over 700 pages.
After letting it sit in my drawer for while, thinking it was too long to do
anything with, last year I decided to turn it into a trilogy.
Daniel and Lori are my hero and heroine. She is a slave and Daniel is the
abolitionist that falls in love with her and helps her to escape.
As mentioned earlier, my marriage inspired the original story. Although the
narrative begins in the past, it concludes in 1998. Steven Jordan is an average
white guy, but his identity is thrown into question when his 100 year old
grandmother reveals that her grandmother was a black woman, born a
I came up with this part of the story after reading an article by Jillian A. Sim that appeared in American Heritage. Ms. Sim, a white woman,
learned after her grandmother, Ellen Love, died in 1994, that Ellen's mother,
Anita Hemmings (Ms. Sims great-grandmother), made headlines around the world in
1897 when it was revealed that she was a black woman passing for white at Vassar
College! In the American Heritage article, Ms. Sim shows how her family
faded from black to white, and I do the same thing in The Unchained
Lori was born a slave, but escapes from slavery. Her granddaughter, Selina, who
passes as white, carries the secret of her African American ancestry like a
painful chain, bound around her heart. Only when she tells her family the truth
can she free herself from the pain of that secret. ESCAPE is part one of the
trilogy. While Lori escapes from bondage, her daughter, Lavinia, escapes from
living as a "Negro." In part two, MASQUERADE, Lavinia becomes a great
actress in New York, all the while hiding her true identity. REVELATION
is part three, and in this story, Lavinia's daughter, Selina, reveals the
truth about her ancestry.
Will her grandson Steven, want to dig up this new root in his family tree, or
leave it buried? With genome research and programs like NBC's Who Do You
Think You Are? and PBS's Finding Your Roots, this is a
fascinating, yet sticky topic to explore. Also, as a source of inspiration, the
possibilities are endless for creating great fiction!
One lucky commenter will be getting an ecopy of ESCAPE today!
26 comments posted.
Re: Maria McKenzie | What Inspired The Unchained Trilogy
thanks for this chance to win
(Debbi Shaw 12:08pm October 21, 2012)
pretty good contest
(Kent Cook 12:22pm October 21, 2012)
Thank goodness we have made some progress in our thinking!
(Marjorie Carmony 1:28pm October 21, 2012)
Thank you for your post and giveaway, Maria. Your novels in this trilogy sound like more than just good reads. They're reminders that we must not take for granted the freedoms and rights we enjoy nowadays.
Good luck with the release of "Escape" and its sequels!
(Mary Anne Landers 3:12pm October 21, 2012)
I love hearing about how people come up with their inspiration for books... it proves that you don't have to be some supergenius to be able to develop a storyine. You just have to have a sense of imagination and the ability to dream (well and a lot of writing skills too... LOL).
(Donna Holmberg 3:44pm October 21, 2012)
Sounds awesome. Thanks for to win!
(Vicki Hancock 4:18pm October 21, 2012)
Ancestry is what make us who we are. We cannot hide from it. Sooner or later, it catches up to each one of us. I love reading story about unknown past or the main character struggling to keep their past a secret.
The trilogy is a must read.
(Kai Wong 4:23pm October 21, 2012)
More people are interested in genealogy and how their family's roots interconnect. I watched a PBS show on Native American Indians and how the Long Walk affects their bloodlines. They were warned to not marry within their same clan and as time went on relaized how a recessive gene gave them kids with XP.
(Alyson Widen 4:44pm October 21, 2012)
This sounds like a wonderful trilogy that explores many aspects of how people feel about their bloodlines. My great-grand mother was Native American and I wish I knew their story.
(Kathleen Yohanna 4:59pm October 21, 2012)
It sounds like a romantic book:)
(Connie Schultz 5:30pm October 21, 2012)
FANTASTIC CONTEST I WOULD LOVE TO WIN!!
(Shelly Caggiano 5:39pm October 21, 2012)
It sounds like a great book -love you books.
(Susan Atkins 7:12pm October 21, 2012)
I really enjoy family saga type books---and I think they are perfect for a series or trilogy format.
(Sue Farrell 7:21pm October 21, 2012)
I love history. Your story sounds wonderful.
(Phyllis Lamken 7:52pm October 21, 2012)
Thanks for the chance. :) Sounds like such an interesting
(Leslie Davis 8:13pm October 21, 2012)
@Debbi: You're welcome! Thanks for stopping by:).
@Marjorie: I agree--we've come a long way;).
@Mary Anne: Thanks for your good wishes, and you are so right! We must never take for granted the rights and freedoms we have today!
@Donna: LOL! I'd say most writers are daydreamers with active imaginations:).
@Vicki: Thank you!
@Kai: Thank you! I love those stories too!
@Alyson: That's amazing! Genalogy is a hot topic today. Seems like more and more people are researching their roots!
@Kathleen: Thank you! There's so much more I'd like to know about the ancestry on both sides of my family.
@Connie: I think it's romantic :). But I refer to it as historical fiction with romantic elements since there's some sadness in the story.
@Shelly: Thanks, Shelly! Good luck:).
@Susan: Thank you:)!
@Sue: I enjoy family sagas too! The series possibilities are endless.
@Phyllis: I'm a history lover too! Researching the trilogy was a lot of fun:).
@Leslie: You're welcome, and thank you!
(Maria McKenzie 8:56pm October 21, 2012)
Sounds like a really good book.
(Susie Kerner 9:19pm October 21, 2012)
Thanks for the chance to win.
(Kathy Fowler 11:26pm October 21, 2012)
A very interesting tale. As an Irish person in Ireland the issue of colour does not affect my family - the Irish were the ones who exported their people and labour. But your story will add to my understanding of others.
Some readers might like to read Small island by Andrea Levy about Jamaicans who came to live in Britain after the second world war. Being British they were not prepared for bigotry because of their colour. But few British people had ever seen a person of colour.
(Clare O'Beara 5:31am October 22, 2012)
@Clare: That's very interesting, Clare! Thanks for sharing. It's fascinating to see how other cultures react to race issues.
(Maria McKenzie 11:13am October 22, 2012)
@Kathy: You're welcome, and good luck!
(Maria McKenzie 11:15am October 22, 2012)
Thanks for a great post and giveaway!
(Christine Mead 7:17pm October 22, 2012)
@Christine: You're welcome!
(Maria McKenzie 7:51pm October 22, 2012)
(Penny Mettert 11:35pm October 22, 2012)
Sounds wonderful !
(Danielle McDonald 12:56pm October 23, 2012)
@Penny: Thank you!
@Danielle: Thanks, glad you think so!
(Maria McKenzie 8:04pm October 23, 2012)
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